In the eventful year, that was 2022, the Government of Bangladesh, with a view to further safeguard the interest of consumers and the general public, and to additionally facilitate ease of doing business by reducing burden of regulatory compliances on industries, has not only enacted various legislations and amendments, but has also brought forth significant Bills/Acts for implementation.

In this article, Team Mahbub & Company attempts to shed light on and summarise the major legal developments in 2022. Read on!

  • Anti-discrimination Bill

The Parliamentary Committee on Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs is currently reviewing the Anti-Discrimination Bill 2022, which was proposed by the Bangladesh National Parliament during its most recent session. The law minister stated that the proposed law’s goal is to avoid all types of discrimination in light of the constitution when introducing it.

According to the draft law, “Inequalities have been eliminated worldwide through a number of international conventions.”

The bill particularly lays down that, any person, who engages in the following acts directly or indirectly on the pretext of religion, caste, ethnicity, language, age, gender, physical and mental state, place of birth, birth, occupation and social standing is considered discriminatory:

  • International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh Act 2022

The parliament by enacting the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh Act 2022, has decided to repeal the former International Centre for Diarrhoeal Research, Bangladesh Ordinance 1978 in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive that laws issued during the military administration must be amended. The Act has given the center’s jurisdiction to export and import drugs and biological materials purely for research purposes. A provision for the creation of a board of 15 members to run the centre has been provided in this Act.

It should be highlighted that any non-Bangladeshi experts, technicians, and reasearch scholars working for the centre and doing research in Bangladesh in support of the center’s goals are free from paying income tax.

  • Trade Organisation Act 2022

The Trade Organisation Act 2022 which replaces the Trade Organizations Ordinance 1961, includes numerous additional measures to guarantee discipline among diverse trade organisations and adequate representation of persons from different trading organisations and the government.

The Trade Organizations Ordinance of 1961 was superseded by the legislation. The Director Trade Organization (DTO), a division of the trade ministry, was mandated by the legislation to provide licences to the national chambers, associations, and owners’ organisations. According to a high official in the commerce ministry, the new legislation comprises 32 sections as opposed to the former ordinance’s 23.

The act will ensure discipline among different types of trade organisations and also ensure proper representation of people from various trading organisations and the government.[M&C2]  The Act also includes provisions for women entrepreneurs and inter-country joint chambers of commerce alliances.

  • Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (Amendment) Act 2022

In order to strengthen the Parjatan Corporation and broaden its authority to promote sustainable tourism, the statute was revised- making some important changes in the process. A person will be regarded as a tourist under the newly introduced criteria if they spend no more than a year for leisure or recreation. The Act’s provisions further specify requirements for the corporation’s operations, its offices and centres, and the direction that the board of directors have provided.

  • Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2022

The Act has been modified / amended in response to the increased demand for digital evidence and to stop rape victims’ integrity from being questioned during trials. The inclusion of digital evidence is a wise move on the part of the legislature, and it has expanded the definition of what constitutes evidence. As a result of this amended law, both the prosecution and the defence are now permitted to present digital evidence to the court to support their positions.

It is significant to notice that the amendment now includes tangible or forensic evidence in the definition of “Evidence” (all materials or objects relating to blood, semen, hair, DNA, finger impression, palm impression, iris impression, footprint, etc.) Additionally, the amendment expands the possibility of admitting digital recordings (records by/in computer memory, audio, video, DVD, CCTV footage, cell phone records, etc.) as evidence.

  • Bangladesh Patents Act, 2022

Academics and politicians have emphasised the necessity for a comprehensive and modern patent law framework, particularly in light of the current worldwide conversation on patent law in relation to the accessibility of vaccinations for the COVID-19 pandemic.The new Act is cognisant of the international standards of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) as established under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and brings about much clarity on the laws on patents[M&C3] .

While in the 1911 Act, definitions of “patent” and “invention” were broadly formulated without any carve-out for exceptions or limitations, the new law provides clearer guidance on patentability. Section 5 of the newly passed Act lists down exceptions to “patentability”. The list includes plants and animals and their parts (other than microorganisms) and the biological processes and the biological processes necessary for the production of plants or animals and their parts (except inorganic and microbiological processes). Section 5 also excludes traditional knowledge, innovation arising out of traditional knowledge or from a combination of the same.

[M&C4] The new Patent Act adopts the internationally recognised standards, specifies a precise set of requirements for compulsory licencing, and offers recommendations on how to strike a balance between satisfying domestic demands and exporting to nations with insufficient manufacturing capacity, particularly in the case of pharmaceutical goods and processes. Its emphasis on international norms of patentability has the potential to increase the framework of patent law’s predictability and dependability and may reduce obstacles to luring foreign investment.

  • Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation Act 2022

This Act replaced the Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation Ordinance, 1985 that is declared void by the court as it was promulgated during the regime of a military dictator.[M&C5] The Act has given the status of ‘Public Servants’ to the Chairman, Directors, other officers, and employees of the Corporation while performing their duties. The Act has given the power to the authority to sell or transfer the share of the corporation subject to the approval of the government.

This Act, among other things, envisages the establishment of the Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation as a ‘body corporate’ having an authorised capital of 50 billion Bangladeshi taka and a paid-up capital of 2 billion Bangladeshi taka.

  • EPZ Labour Rule, 2022

The EPZ Labor Rule 2022, which was created by the government and is based on section 203 of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Labor Act 2019, presents certain significant laws and regulations for zone areas.

The new law added a new provision that states that if an employer does not provide a confirmation letter after six months have passed, the employee will be considered permanently employed.

An employee must submit a leave request before three to seven days and specify the address where they will be residing throughout the requested vacation term. When a leave of absence is about to expire, if an employee wishes to extend it, he or she must notify the employer in writing. Employers must communicate their choice in the same manner as their employees.

For retrenchment, the employer needs to consider the join date of the employee. For the employees who joined earlier, employer needs to consider them first. The rule also specified the calculation method of earned leave of the Zone’s employees.  Besides that, there are some clear guidelines for maternity benefits, leave, punishment for conviction, the safety of the worker, risk management and primary medical service, etc[M&C6] .

  • Amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Rule, 2015 in 2022

On September 1, 2022, the Labor Rule 2015 underwent 101 additional revisions from the Ministry of Labor and Employment. The recently modified regulation has undergone both significant and small revisions. Conduct toward women, maternity benefits, and the construction of health clinics that will offer counselling to women are prominent among the primary improvements.

Below are some of the major rules among 101 newly amended rules, added by The Ministry of Labor and Employment.

According to the change, the Labor Ministry included a new section stating that there needs to be a committee in charge of overseeing or considering all harassment-related issues in every organisation. The complaint committee must have five members, the majority of whom should be women. One of these members will serve as chief, and the other representatives must be chosen from the same establishment.

Further, another provision added in the amended Rule states that, if a woman gives birth after the scheduled time of eight weeks preceding the expected day of her delivery, the days that pass after the scheduled time of eight weeks will be adjusted under the Rules. Secondly, if a woman suffers a miscarriage before the scheduled date of going on maternity leave, she will be entitled to four weeks leave due to her health reasons; no deductions from wages will be made and such leave cannot be adjusted with any leave which is due to her. The amended rules also clarify the calculation of maternity benefits, the rule additionally permits to deduction of money for the provident fund from the maternity benefit.

According to the amended rule, employers had to establish a Health Centre to provide consultation to women employees.  Besides, employer has to ensure the necessary transport with security in case if a woman requires to work in between 10 PM and 6 AM.

  • The Air Pollution Rules, 2022

In the month of July of 2022, Bangladesh’s Ministry of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change published the Air Pollution (Control) Rules 2022. These rules are established under the “Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995” and create the National Air Quality Control Plan and the Air Pollution Prevention Plan.

Preventing, reducing, and controlling air pollution are the coreobjectives­ of this regulation. The environmental issue will be managed and maintained by a director general that the government will appoint. The Rule lists several sources of pollution, including those brought on by factories, automobiles, construction, garbage, etc. A committee will set penalties and damages for such pollution in accordance with the new regulation. According to the rule, anyone who oppose pollution and refrain from causing any kind of pollution will be rewarded by the government.

  • Electricity Rules, 2022

The government unveiled the Electricity Rules 2022, a new regulation based on the Electricity Act of 2018. In this new rule, the government has defined a number of topics, including how the electricity licencing board was established, what the board was responsible for, how to grant licences to electricians and supervisors, how to conduct exams, how to licence electrical contractors, etc.

The rule states that the 12-member electrical licencing board is in charge of administering tests, giving licences to contractors, supervisors, and electricians, and has the authority to revoke such licences.

Written and compiled by the Administrative & Public Law team at Mahbub & Company